Friday, April 12, 2013
Story: The Necromancer's Apprentice
This story is another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction challenge. It's a fun one, I hope you enjoy it!
Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself. He counted them one more time to make sure he had collected the twelve bodies his master had asked for. He nodded with satisfaction when he saw that he'd gotten enough.
Max reflected how happy he was with his current role as a Necromancer's apprentice. He'd tried other occupations, of course, but none of them gave him the job satisfaction that this one did.
He laughed as he thought about his tenure as an apprentice in the Thieves' Guild. When the authorities brought down the whole guild, the rest of the thieves had pegged him as a mole, but he had just accidentally led the authorities back to the hideout after stealing the mayor's "Key to the City". Who knew that the key didn't actually unlock any doors?
Then there was the time that he tried to join the Druidic Order. The look on those Druid's faces was priceless when he walked into a society meeting wearing the chain mail he'd found on a dead bugbear. He still found their dislike of metal armor silly.
Max walked over to the cabinet that held the spell components that his master would use to raise the corpses. He pulled out a little of this and a bottle of that and placed them on the ceremonial table in the middle of the room. Next, he grabbed the large cauldron and placed it on the table.
Laying out the spell components reminded him of his tenure as a cleric's apprentice in the Church of Slinne, the Goddess of Life. He was still making payments to pay for the repairs caused by the fire he accidentally started with the ceremonial torches.
Now, though, he'd definitely found his niche. He'd been with his master for almost a year now. It was Max's longest term of employment by at least three months.
His reverie was interrupted by the sound of something gnawing on bone. Max looked over at the bodies and saw one of his master's pet rats chewing on the femur of one of the more decomposed bodies. He ran over and shooed the creature away, shaking his head. He didn't know why his master kept those creatures around.
They did remind him of the time he apprenticed for a Ranger in the Hundart Forest. The Ranger's companion, a very large wolverine named Scrappy, had never liked him. His apprenticeship ended abruptly when he accidentally lit the creature's tail on fire. It was also how he got the scars on his thigh. Wolverine claws could do a lot of damage. Good thing his former master had had a healing spell prepared at the time.
He heard his current master coming down the stone stairway and quickly finished organizing the table the way he knew his master liked.
"Good evening, Max," his master, Alacast, said as he approached the table. "Is everything ready?"
"Oh, yes sir," Max excitedly answered. "We've got twelve corpses of varying levels of decay all ready to be risen."
Alacast spent a moment looking over the dead. "No trouble in the cemetery?"
That question reminded Max of how he'd met Alacast. The Necromancer had sent his previous apprentice to the graveyard where Max had been working as a gravedigger's apprentice. He'd interrupted the apprentice as he was robbing a grave. Max had offered to help him dig up the body, but the apprentice had refused. As Max leaned against the gravestone to watch the apprentice work, the stone shifted and fell into the grave, crushing the apprentice. Alacast's magic had alerted him to his apprentice's demise and he'd hurried to the cemetery. When he arrived a few minutes later and saw what had happened, he offered Max the apprenticeship. Gravedigger work hadn't been for him, so he accepted.
Back in the present, Max answered, "No, sir. The gravedigger was passed out drunk again."
His master nodded and returned to the table and began the chant that would raise the corpses into undead. Max stood behind his master watching intently as he chanted. Max knew that this spell would take some time, so he leaned back against the wall.
What Max hadn't realized was that it wasn't the wall right behind him, but rather a lit brazier. The brazier fell over, knocking down the one next to it and so on until the dozen braziers around the room had all fallen over. Max cursed himself when he saw that several of the corpses had caught fire.
Alacast stopped chanting and glanced over his shoulder at Max. Sheepishly, Max said, "Sorry, master."
The Necromancer turned and knocked over the cauldron on the table in front of him, spilling the contents onto the remainder of the bodies that hadn't been burning but were now being eaten away by the acidic contents of the cauldron.
The two of them glanced at each other and broke out laughing. Alacast, between chortles, said, "This is why we work well together, Max. Birds of a feather are we. At least they were already dead."
Max smiled and nodded. He said, "I'll get the mess cleaned up, master, and fetch you a dozen new bodies."